Consider it a nice problem to have. The not-quite five-year-old Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, home to an internationally recognized collection of works spanning several centuries, needs more space.
The museum wanted space for programming, space for studios and space for the museum’s ever-growing contemporary art collection. Those needs will be remedied courtesy of a more than 60,000-square-foot building in Bentonville that once housed a Kraft cheese factory.
The emptiness of the space about 1.5 miles south of the current campus excited museum officials, said Niki Stewart, the museum’s chief engagement officer. The first step toward renovating the building, due to open in 2018, will be to imagine the programming that will take place inside it and then build infrastructure to support it. Stewart mentioned creating room for dance performances, working artists and the like.
“The programs will drive what happens inside,” she said.
Discussions about purchasing and transforming the building first started about a year and half ago, Stewart said. The Walton Family Foundation will support the endeavor. Brothers Tom and Steuart Walton, grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton and nephews to museum founder Alice Walton, will lead the project.